43.1% of EU citizens went to the polls on Sunday to chose who will lead Europe for the next 5 years.
Despite a remarkable rise in anti-European parties, the first official results show that the political balance in the European Parliament remained mostly unchanged.
Pro-European center-right EPP and center-left S&D will keep control of around 70% of the seats in the chamber. According to political analysts, both parties are on track to form a grand coalition.
“Grand coalition, yes, so that means more compromises, more centric politics, which is again, pretty much in line with precious parliaments that we have had in Europe. It is often the case that the two groups (EPP and S&D) worked together . This time they will have to work together because the next largest one is not sufficient to give a majority to either of them” said Centre for European Policy Studies Research Fellow Marco Incenti.
But Eurosceptic parties gained significant ground and the number of Eurosceptic members could be more than double.
In France, the far-right Front National came first with 25% of the vote. In the UK, the anti-EU UKIP scored 27%.
“All people looking to the results in France, this is a bad day for the European Union, when a party with a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic programme gets 25% or 24% of the vote.” S&D leader and European Commission president candidate Martin Schulz said.
“It does look to me, although UKIP is gonna win this election, and yes this will be an earthquake because never before in the history of British politics has a party that seems to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election.” said UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
What remains to be seen is what will happen with the 38 Non-affiliated and the 67 “other” MEPs who do not yet belong to any political party. The majority belong to populist and extremist anti- EU groups.
Meanwhile, EU heads of state are meeting on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the aftermath of the European elections and to start negotiations on who will be the next Commission President.
There are rumours that EU leaders might not appoint one of the current candidates, which ALDE candidate Guy Verhofstadt called “unthinkable”. But experts believe it is very likely to happen. IMF’s Christine Lagarde or ex- trade commissioner Pascal Lamy are among the possibilities.